Deerfield officials discuss wastewater treatment issues with Berkshire Brewing Co.

  • The South Deerfield wastewater treatment plant on Sunderland Road has been experiencing an increasing amount of high-strength wastewater load discharges, which are inhibiting the facility’s ability to treat the wastewater and meet permit compliance. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/14/2020 11:42:06 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Town officials met with representatives from Berkshire Brewing Co. last week to discuss concerns they have with the company’s byproduct, which they believe is creating problems for the wastewater treatment plant on Sunderland Road.

According to David Prickett, president and principal engineer at David Prickett Consulting, the South Deerfield Wastewater Treatment Plant has been experiencing an increasing amount of high-strength wastewater load discharges, which are “inhibiting the facility’s ability to treat the wastewater” and meet permit compliance.

“We’re seeing, based on preliminary data … that the wastewater strength coming from the brewery appears to be 10 to 20 times that of typical domestic wastewater,” he said, adding that the plant doesn’t have the “heart and lungs” to accommodate the slug effect, or discharge of material that interferes with the treatment process.

The rush of high-strength wastewater appears to be happening on Tuesdays, the day the town conducts its mandated weekly testing for the state, Select Board member Trevor McDaniel said.

McDaniel explained that most treatment plants have two clarifiers; however, the South Deerfield plant currently has one, which is in the process of being replaced, exacerbating the problem.

“Say we get a thunderstorm or another big flush of water coming through that pushes into our only clarifier, which is broken at the moment, and then on through into the contact chamber and out to the river,” he said.

McDaniel said the quality of water is usually pretty clear before it goes into the Connecticut River.

“Lately, it’s just horrendous,” McDaniel said. “The testing tubes are cloudy, all the solids are there.”

Representatives from Berkshire Brewing, which included owner Gary Bogoff, asked town officials for more analytical data on what is coming into the plant and if there are any other industries that may be contributing to the plant’s problems.

Tony DeSimone, an engineer with David Prickett Consulting, had data from 2019 on hand at last week’s meeting. Kevin Milne, chief operator at the South Deerfield Wastewater Treatment Plant, said the facility had an average of about 300 milligrams per liter coming in, which is “very high” for this type of system.

Bogoff said Berkshire Brewing has been trying to sidestream as much BODs (Biological Oxygen Demand), or what is often used as an index of the degree of organic pollution in water, as possible.

“That goes for all of our grain to all of our yeast, to when we’re done transferring the beer, the product,” he said. “We have some slurries leftover that we’ve also been sidestreaming.”

To the question of other potential contributors, McDaniel recalled similar issues when Cains Pickles was in town.

“They had a heavy BOD load. … They would let go at night at a steady trickle,” he said. “Maybe we can take some of those lessons to figure out how we can handle this one.”

Bogoff invited town officials to visit the brewery to better understand their production process, so both the town and company could come to an agreement on how to proceed.

“It would be greatly appreciated,” Bogoff said. “There may be some obvious things that we’re missing and we could institute right away.”

McDaniel said the next step is an exchange of data between the town and brewery.

“If we get some information from you on the production schedule, and then we can visit and … look at how you get rid of things,” he said, “we can supply you with all the data that is coming out of the facility, and at our plant, so we can correlate both of those.”

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